After months of rumors, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are here in the flesh! Apple announced both today at its launch event in San Francisco.
If you always wanted water resistance and better battery life on your iPhone, you're going to be happy. If you wanted a headphone jack, you'll be sad.
Updated 4:15 p.m. PT: Additional hands-on impressions.
Feels the same, with tweaks (and a funky home button)
We got to use one hands-on for a few minutes after Apple's event.
Obviously, you can't appreciate water resistance in a demo room (at least, not Apple's demo room). But the iPhone 7 seems like a bunch of upgrades -- some of which iPhone users have wanted for a while.
Did we mention no headphone jack? Yes, it's weird. Also, the home button being a solid-state Force Touch-like panel means it doesn't quite have the same feel. It took some getting used to.
Jet black, Apple's new glossy black color iPhone, looks beautiful. It turns the iPhone into a slim black obelisk. But it also might be a bit of a smudge magnet.
Here are the most important things you need to know about the iPhone 7:
- Size and feel: The iPhone 7 feels pretty much the same as the iPhone 6S, with the same 4.7-inch screen. Apple says the "HD Retina display" is 25 percent brighter than last year's model. It includes the pressure-sensitive 3D Touch layer that buzzes slightly when you press and hold the screen.
- Static home button: The home button is now solid state, which means you can't physically press or click it in -- kind of like the Motorola Moto Z and OnePlus 3. It's pressure-sensitive, including "taptic feedback", which just means that apps can give you three levels of pressure and haptic feedback, like a light or strong buzz. It doesn't feel like a button and definitely takes getting used to, but so far it seems to get the job done.
- Water-resistant: Yes, Virginia, it will be water-resistant (IP67), like several Samsung and Sony phones (IP68). Cannonballlll!
- No headphone jack: It's gone. Really. Instead, Apple's new EarPods headphones will connect through the Lightning connector port; you'll also get an adaptor in the box. Apple's also pushing new, funky-looking AirPods headset connects wirelessly through auto-pairing. These worked pretty well, actually, and sounded pretty good in a the loud demo room.
- New camera: The iPhone 7 keeps the 12-megapixel camera, but adds a larger aperture and -- this is a big deal -- optical image stabilization that keeps images steadier. We do notice that the camera sticks out more from the back. (The iPhone 7 Plus gets a second, 56mm telephoto lens on the back that works like a built-in zoom feature. Phones like the LG V20, Huawei P9 and Huawei Honor 8 have two cameras, too.) We have lots more detail below.
That home button doesn't click in.
- New front-facing camera: The iPhone 7's 7-megapixel front-facing camera leaps up from 5 megapixels on the iPhone 6S, and includes auto-image stabilization (but not optical image stabilization).
- Stereo speakers: A second speaker joins the iPhone to give you stereo speakers. There's now one at the bottom and one at the top (this is brand-new for Apple).
- Longer battery life: Greater battery capacity for longer battery life. Apple estimates 12 hours of LTE browsing (the iPhone 7 Plus should clock about two more hours). Apple notoriously never tells us what the capacity is.
- Faster processor: The iPhone 7's new A10 Fusion chip is a 64-bit, quad-core processor that Apple says is 40 percent faster than last year's A9 processor. Two cores are high-performance, the other two are "high efficiency," which means they'll conserve battery while handling tasks. Take-away message: deeper visual graphics, especially with gaming. (Did we mention that Super Mario is coming to the iPhone?!?!)
- More storage!: 32GB, 128GB, 256GB capacities
- Colors: Glossy jet black, matte black, gold, silver, rose gold (P.S.: New jet black is only available in 128GB and 256GB models.)
How much will the iPhone 7 cost and when can you preorder?
The 32GB capacity iPhone 7 starts at $649 full retail, which converts to £487 and AU$846. You're looking at starting at $32.41 per month with the iPhone Upgrade Program for the base model. We'll update with more pricing details soon.
If you signed up for the iPhone Upgrade plan, you're eligible for the new phone as part of the program. Good news for people living in the UK and China: you'll now be able to sign up, too (it was previously US-only).
You can preorder both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus this Friday, September 9, and phones will be available September 16. (iOS 10 becomes available on September 13 for everyone else who's ready to upgrade).
Tell me more about that new camera
Although Apple keeps the megapixel size steady at 12, the increased aperture (now f1.8) lens promises to let in 50 percent more light through the six-element lens. That's better for all photos, and also low-light photography, which Apple emphasized. Low-light is one of the most important battlegrounds for mobile photography, especially as phone owners increasingly take to social networks like Instagram to post pictures from every environment.
Add to this a new image processing chip and faster photo-taking will help Apple step up to high-end Samsung, Sony, LG and Huawei phones that boast brighter low-light photos and much more manual control. Apple's camera app seems to retain its more pared-down design.
Optical image stabilization, or OIS, is also huge here. Last year's iPhone 6S Plus was the only phone to have it. This time Apple blesses the iPhone 7 with OIS, which should make for crisper images even if your hands jiggle a bit while you're taking it.
Finally, a new quad-LED flash (up from a dual-LED flash) will make flash brighter, but hopefully with more natural tones that don't blow out the scene. The iPhone 7 still supports Live Photos (basically a 3-second video clip) and introduces RAW image support (thanks, iOS 10).
These are all welcome upgrades. Just keep in mind that the iPhone 7 Plus has another camera trick up its sleeve with dual lenses enabling better zoom and depth of field effects.
Enough to upgrade?
Who knows yet. Hands-on, the 7 feels a lot like the 6S (and the 6). But the key updates to battery, faster performance, water resistance and camera could make a difference.